Northern Spain Wine, Art and Culture Tour
Date 1: November 18th - November 25th 2012
Date 2: January 6th - January 13th 2013
Date 3 - PO POLSKU/polish: March 27th - April 2nd 2013
Cost: $3,150.00 per person
Meet and greet in the morning at the Madrid International Airport where you will meet your two full-time tour guides and your full-time coach driver.
Then we’re off driving to Santo Domingo de la Calzada. An exciting few-hours drive through Castilla to Rioja is filled with spectacular landscapes, vineyards and castles.
Check-in at one of the most incredible hotels – Parador de Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Paradors are castles, monasteries and palaces turned into exclusive hotels. This 12th century gem stands right next to the famous cathedral. Please go to www.parador.es/en/parador-de-sto-domingo-de-la-calzada to view more details.
FREE TIME. RECCOMMENDATIONS: Visit the Cathedral. In the Middle Ages, a hermit named Domingo established a hospital and built a bridge over the Oja river to aid pilgrims on their journey to Santiago (one of three most important pilgrimage routes in the world). St. Dominic’s remains are kept in this 12th century Cathedral. The most bizarre element is a cage set in a wall in which a live cockerel and hen are kept, to commemorate a miracle attributed to St. Dominic. Join our trip to find out more about the legend of resurrection and the roasted cock!
Meet your tour friends for a special welcome dinner at the Parador. Dinner is prepared by the region’s top chef to introduce you to delicious Riojan cuisine. You will also sample the world-famous Rioja wine. Get to know your guides and new friends.
An exquisite breakfast at the Parador’s restaurant.
After breakfast our driver will take us for a day trip to explore vineyards of Rioja and enjoy perhaps the most known grape varietal from Spain – Tempranillo.
We wil visit world famous Bodegas Roda in Haro. We will hear all about the uniquesness of Roda from their winemaker. The visit to Roda includes also a visit to their world famous photographic exhibition, (Juan Manuel Castro Prieto and Nicolás Muller), and the tasting of the wines; Corimbo 2008 (their new wine from Ribera del Duero) and Roda reserva 2007 as well as the extra virgin olive oil Dauro and Aubocassa.
We will visit bodega Dinastia Vivanco (www.dinastiavivanco.com). A special tour of their vineyards and bodega will be given to us, and we will visit their world’s largest and most famous museum dedicated to wine. First we will taste the following iconic wines:
1. Vivanco, white. Viura-Malvasia-White Tempranillo, 2011
2. Dinastia Vivanco, Red. Crianza 2008.
3. Dinastia Vivanco, Red. Reserva 2005.
4. Coleccion Vivanco, Red. 4 Varietales, 2008-2009
Then we will enjoy a specially designed lunch, please view the typical Riojan Menu:
- potatoes with chorizo (typical starter of our region): http://spanishfood.about.com/od/soupssalads/r/patatasriojanas.htm
- half portion of Cod with “pil pil” sauce: http://spanishfood.about.com/b/2009/04/28/cod-with-pil-pil-sauce-bacalao-al-pil-pil.htm
- half portion of Roasted Lamb (typical main dish in Rioja): http://spanishfood.about.com/od/maincourses/r/corderoasado.htm
- homemade "Torrijas" (Bread pudding): http://gospain.about.com/od/fooddrink/qt/breakfastspain.htm
The menu will include still water, Dinastia Vivanco Crianza 2008 wine and coffee.
After this spectacular visit and lunch we will proceed to what is perhaps the most photographed and unique place in Rioja - Bodegas de Marques de Riscal, with the building designed by Frank Ghery (please see the photo on the bottom of this page). The tour will include tasting of Marques de Riscal Reserva D.O.Ca’ red wine and ‘Marques de Riscal Rueda Verdejo’ white wine.
Our driver will take us back to the Parador.
Another delicious breakfast at the Parador.
After breakfast board our bus and we’re off to Logrono – the capital of La Rioja, which we enter through the great Puente de Piedra, the bridge over the Ebro river – one of the most important and strategic structures in Rioja.
FREE TIME. RECCOMMENDATIONS: Visit the Cathedral of Santa Maria de la Redonda – a grand 15th century temple, with a crucifixion on a wooden panel by the Renaissance genius Michelangelo. Visit San Bartolome church with its Mudejar-style tower (a style characterized by Moorish brick, ceramic and stucco work created by the Muslims who stayed in Spain after the Moorish rule). Visit the boutiques, cafes and restaurants of Logrono, taste wine at Bodegas and explore Riojan tapas.
Board the bus that will take us to our next hotel – Parador in Leon (San Marcos Monastery). Share your Riojan adventures and enjoy the review and geek wine facts about Rioja presented by your guides.
NEW!!! On the way to Leon we will visit Anta Banderas - Antonio Banderas' vineard, tour the facilities and taste some of their wines!
Check in at the Parador (www.parador.es/en/parador-de-leon to view details).
Enjoy the regenerating breakfast at your new digs – Parador de Leon.
Exploring Leon and it’s most important structures. Founded as a camp for the Romans’ Seventh Legion, Leon became the capital of the kingdom in the Middle Ages and played a central role in the years of Reconquest.
First we explore our own Parador, a prime example of Spanish Renaissance architecture. It was founded during the 12th century as a monastery lodging pilgrims going to Santiago. We take a closer look at the Plateresque façade studded with scallop shells (pilgrims’ symbol), we visit the cloisters and church.
Then we walk to the Colegiata de San Isidoro, and its Royal Pantheon, with most amazing frescoes illustrating biblical subjects and scenes of medieval life. San Isidoro Basilica is often referred to as the Sistine Chapel of Romanesque art. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_San_Isidoro)
Then we explore the Cathedral of Leon, a glorious Gothic structure with stunning stained glass, rose windows, carvings and sculptures that will take your breath away. (http://www.sacred-destinations.com/spain/leon-cathedral)
Gather at the Parador’s restaurant for a dinner. We will explore Leonese cuisine and wash it down with D.O. Bierzo wine. This is perhaps most interesting and up-and-coming wine region in Spain.
Another exquisite breakfast at the Parador.
After breakfast our driver will take us to explore Bierzo region.
We will visit Ponferrada’s majestic castle that was constructed between 12th and 14th centuries by the Knights Templar to protect pilgrims. During the Middle Ages it was one of the largest fortresses in northwest Spain. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponferrada)
We will enjoy a lunch in one of their exceptional local establishments.
Then we will visit Bodegas Estefania and explore their award winning Tilenus wines. We will watch a movie introduction with welcome message from their oenologist that will exlain the importance of the Mencia grape that makes D.O. Bierzo world famous. We will tour the winery with a guide who will explain the details and procedures, then we will move to the Barrell Room with 1,000 barrels of different woods, toasts and rest time. Finally we will enjoy the tasting of the most emblematic Tilenus wines (all over 90 points).
After the visit our driver will bring us back to the Parador.
Another breakfast in our Parador (early, as we will be departing at 8am for the hiking adventure).
After breakfast we will be joining the millions of pilgrims that every year walk to Santiago de Compostela. According to legend the body of Christ’s apostle James was brought to Galicia. In 813 the relics were supposedly discovered at Santiago de Compostela, where a cathedral was built in his honor. This most important pilgrimage route in Medieval times also became a way of exchanging ideas, where people of different countires and backgrounds met and walked together. The various routes, adorned with scallop shells are still used by travelers today on this spiritual route, no matter what religion or language. We will walk from Leon to Virgen del Camino to join the pilgrims on the route and see fascinating hobbit houses which are built into the earth. The walk is 6km each way. In La Virgen del Camino we will visit the sanctuary dedicated to the Patroness of Leon. The 13 bronze statues each measuring 6 meters are the most representative compositions of Spanish modernist religious sculpture. We simply call it, the creepiest looking sanctuary(this is meant as a compliment!). After the visit we will walk back to Leon, and - those who walked without complaining – will drink a rejuvenating copa of sherry in Leon!
We will board the bus to drive to Santiago de Compostela – the end of the road, to the most glorious Paradors of all (www.parador.es/en/parador-de-santiago-de-compostela). Check in.
Enjoy the bountiful breakfast at one the best known restaurants at the Parador de los Reyes Catolicos.
We then walk through the famous Plaza del Obradoiro to the reliquary of the body of St. James, the awe-inspiring Santiago Cathedral. Prominent artists and architects have made this the crowning jewel of all cathedrals as millions of pilgrims have been led to this final destination throughout the millennia via land, air and sea. The harmonious dimensions, proportions and secrets of this stellar temple will be revealed to us from King David on the Puerta de las Platerias to our translation of the Latin inscription on the Portico de la Gloria.
FREE TIME. RECCOMMENDATION: explore our Parador, Hostal de los Reyes Catolicos, built by the Catholic Monarchs as an inn and hospital for sick pilgrims which has an elaborate Plateresque doorway.
Later this evening we meet up and continue sharing the secrets we have learned over laughter and some of Spain’s best food and wine at the gourmet restaurant located inside our Parador.
Enjoy our last breakfast together at the Parador and say good-byes, as our trip ends here.